Find Yourself in “Looking for Alaska”


“When adults say, ‘Teenagers think they are invincible’ with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken.” —John Green 

John Green is a name with which most college students are familiar. He is a popular young adult author, probably most famous for his book “The Fault in Our Stars. However, his debut novel “Looking for Alaska” is underrated, often being ignored in favor of his more recent works. 

Like his other books, he tells the story of a romance plagued by complications and pain outside the tropes used by  other authors in the same genre. The book follows a teenage boy named Miles Halter as he begins attending boarding school at his dad’s alma mater, Culver Creek, in hopes of finding some deep meaning in his life. 

When he moves in, he quickly befriends his roommate and forms his band of misfits. These kids are separated from others at the school primarily due to their financial status — they are the scholarship kids constantly at war with the upper-class students. 

Miles is immediately infatuated with one person in particular, Alaska Young. Alaska is a beautiful, intelligent and strikingly complex person. She represents a  mystery he so desperately wants to solve. Green expertly writes their relationship in a way which highlights both the connection they form and the distance Alaska keeps. 

Miles and his friends face numerous conflicts with other students and among themselves. They navigate various emotions that they barely understand. Alaska holds an interesting role as both their companion and their biggest struggle. She’s hard for any of them to keep up with, having quick changing feelings, plans and desires. 

Following their story takes the reader through a fascinating series of ups and downs which makes the book increasingly interesting until the very end. But what truly makes this a good read is how supremely real the characters Green writes are. Any book gets better when you can care for and connect with the characters.

Each individual described in “Looking for Alaska” has different backgrounds and feelings, allowing readers to find someone they see as a reflection of themselves . We may feel as though reading young adult novels is behind us and equate this book with those we read in our preteen years, but the content is much more within the realm of the college age group. 

It can be easy to lose track of the idea of reading for fun, especially as the end of the semester approaches and students find themselves constantly looking at textbooks, but this fast-paced, emotion-filled read might be just the thing to remind you that reading can be entertaining this spring. It’ll be fun at times and sad at others. Sometimes you can’t put it down, others you may have to take a minute. That’s the sign of a good book.

“Looking for Alaska” was adapted into a Hulu miniseries which actually represented the essence of the story very nicely and is definitely worth the watch if you like the story. But, as always, make sure to read the book first. I promise it’s better that way.